“…can we put this off please?”
Since 2013, we have been investigating charges that the IRS deliberately targeted and discriminated against conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status. Now, watchdog group Judicial Watch has uncovered even more evidence that the Washington office had something to hide during the initial Congressional investigations.
Today’s document release by Judicial Watch includes evidence that then-IRS official Lois Lerner strongly objected to and attempted to prevent a visit by Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Division Deputy Director Joseph H. Grant to the embattled Cincinnati office, which spent time “smack dab in the middle” of Congressional investigations into the IRS targeting of conservatives.
From Judicial Watch:
The newly released documents include an intense chain of emails in which Lerner pleads with Grant, who was a supervisor to her, to “put this [Grant’s planned visit to Cincinnati] off please” at the very time during which both the internal IRS watchdog and Congress were investigating whether the IRS had been inappropriately targeting conservative groups in the months leading up to the 2012 elections. The chain begins with an email from Lerner to Grant, apparently written in response to her learning of the Deputy Director’s planned visit to the Cincinnati office:
• April 4, 2012 – 4:41 PM – Lois Lerner to Joseph Grant:
We just gor an very extensive information request from Imraan [Imraan Khakoo, TE/GE official] –sure looks like op review material. I’m especially concerned that information about pipeline is being asked about … Add to that the fact tha cincinnati is smack dab in the middle of the c4 Congressional inqueries and is about to get a request from TIGTA on all of that, this is NOT a good time to be asking them for anything or to be talking to them about issue in their work. Everyone is stressed to the max and at their wits end, so can we put this off please? [Typos in originals]
• April 4, 2012 – 5:17 PM – Joseph Grant to Lois Lerner:
It is a visit, not an OP review … I am also interested in the questions Imraan sent to them. Some answers should be readily at hand. Others certainly won’t be … The questions just serve as a framework for a broader conversation about how things are going and what is on our respective minds.
• April 4, 2012 – 5:26 PM – Lois Lerner to Joseph Grant:
I get that–but timing would be bad if we have to go to Cincy now. So, I will assume we can go over this here as I get the information I’ve already asked for? Thanks.
Breathe, Lois, breathe!
Released documents show that Lerner knew just how burdensome information requests from tea party groups had become and confirm that since at least 2012, then-IRS Commissioner Steve Miller knew that the IRS was collecting donor information from applicant organizations—which Lerner later conceded was inappropriate.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton had strong words for these high-level officials, saying that,
“These new documents, withheld for years contrary to law, suggest that a top IRS official may have obstructed investigations into the IRS scandal. Even Lois Lerner objected to her boss’s travel to the infamous Cincinnati IRS office, falsely accused by Barack Obama as being solely responsible for the abuse of the First Amendment rights of his critics… These documents also show the IRS knew early on that it was abusing its authority and innocent Americans through burdensome information requests and improper collection of the names of donors to groups that threatened Obama’s reelection. This IRS scandal is just getting started. Obama’s cover up of his administration’s suppression of his political opposition continues to unravel.”
This latest batch of information is damning not only because it gives hard evidence to suggest that high-level officials attempted to repress free speech, but also because it confirms what we’ve suspected all along—that these people engaged in a shameless cover-up that went all the way up to the President himself.
As Fitton said, this scandal is just getting warmed up.DONATE
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